A few weeks ago I posted my list of 13 awesome songs from the first season of Glee, which was pretty easy to do. I’ve been dreading season two, though – not because there weren’t any good songs, but because there were so many. In season one you pretty much had the same few people singing the songs so it was easy to pick out your favorites. But in season two you suddenly have the addition of Blaine and the Dalton Academy Warblers, Sam Evans, plus solos from secondary characters like Kurt Hummel, Santana Lopez, and Brittany S. Pearce. Suddenly the field is just that much wider.
But I think I’ve been able to narrow down the list of 100+ songs to 13…an awesome 13.
13. “Raise Your Glass” – Dalton Academy Warblers
I pretty much loved every song Blaine and his Warblers sang during the season, which is why they show up more than once on this list. From the episode “Original Song”, this particular performance takes place at Sectionals about halfway through the season, and it’s just one of those songs that makes you feel so happy. Darren Criss, of course, nails it like he does every time he sings, and makes you feel like this song was written for everyone in that audience.
12. “Don’t You Want Me” – Rachel Berry and Blaine Anderson
In the episode “Blame It On the Alcohol”, we get to see Rachel and Blaine sing together for the first time. During a party at Rachel’s house, everyone gets drunk and we’re not surprised when the karaoke machine gets pulled out. Rachel and Blaine sing an awesome rendition of Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, making me like this version more than the original, and – surprise – Darren Criss kills it.
11. “What I Did For Love” – Rachel Berry
I like that Glee tries to keep a good balance between popular songs and showtunes, and in an episode filled with current pop songs (“Audition”), it ends with Rachel singing one of my favorite showtunes of all time from the musical A Chorus Line. Lea Michele sounds best when she’s singing Broadway, and she’s able to channel her character’s pain and reasoning as she sings, which makes for a surprisingly emotional way to end the first episode of the season.
10. “Le Jazz Hot” – Kurt Hummel
We knew from Kurt Hummel’s (Chris Colfer) performance of “Defying Gravity” from season one that he could sing, but we really didn’t see how well he could command a performance until the episode “Duets”. In an almost protest of having to find a duet partner, Kurt decides to sing with the only person he sees best – himself. He performs a song from Victor/Victoria dressed as half man, half woman, and sings both of those asses off. How he hits that note at the very end is beyond me.
9. “P.Y.T.” (“Pretty Young Thing”) – Artie Abrams
Although Glee has an entire episode devoted to Michael Jackson, one of the first MJ songs they performed was this one in the Valentine’s Day episode “Silly Love Songs”. Kevin McHale does an awesome job of any R&B song he tackles, but this one was really amazing. He seems to have channeled MJ in his performance – not just him, but Mike Chang (Harry Shum, Jr) as well as he shows us why he’s the best dancer in the entire world. The entire performance from the two of them – singer and dancer – is awesome enough to give you chills.
8. “Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again” – Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel
Another song from the “Duets” episode, this one happens at the very end of the episode after Rachel and Kurt are given a second chance to do the duet assignment after Rachel and Finn purposely tried to lose and Kurt sang with himself). Lea Michele once again brings out her inner Babs while Kurt just sounds like a frickin’ angel, and magic ensues. Plus the two songs together sound like they were meant to be mashed up, reminding us all to just be happy. And that’s how that performance makes you feel.
7. “Never Going Back Again” – Artie Abrams
I was really excited for the Fleetwood Mac “Rumours” episode, and the Glee cast definitely did not disappoint. The one performance that stood out for me, however, was when Artie sang “Never Going Back Again”, a song with one of the best guitar riffs I’ve heard. Artie sings it to express his love/hate feelings for Brittany, and yet it’s a song we can all relate to because we’ve all been in a situation like that one time or another. But the best part of that performance was the choral of guitars in the background playing so beautifully that the song sounds absolutely perfect.
6. “Valerie” – Santana Lopez
Naya Rivera has one of my favorite singing voices on the show, and she showed everyone why in the episode “Special Education” during Regionals. It was a competition in which the usual background performers came out to the front, giving them a rare opportunity to shine. And in this case, Santana singing Amy Winehouse blew everyone away. She sounds so good that you can’t help but wonder, “Why doesn’t she just sing every song?” Yeah. She’s that good.
5. “Billionaire” – Sam Evans
I immediately liked the character Sam Evans from his very first performance from the season two opener “Audition”. I wasn’t sure what to think of this guy with his guitar – typical cute, blond type – but the second he opened his trouty mouth to sing, I – along with millions of other people – fell immediately in love. His voice is sweet and boy-bandish, but that doesn’t take away from his talent. Give this guy more songs, please.
4. “Somewhere Only We Know” – Dalton Academy Warblers
The original version of this song by Keane is one of my favorite songs of all time, so I was a little nervous when I heard they were going to perform it. But I also knew I could pretty much trust anything Darren Criss does, and when he and his Warblers started singing, I knew they had done the song justice. In fact – given it’s a cappella tone – the song actually sounded better. It’s beautiful and haunting and, well, kind of depressing because it’s intended to be a song of farewell. But I listen to it on repeat anyway.
3. “Forget You” – Holly Holliday
Glee has had on some memorable guest stars, but none quite so awesome as Gwyneth Paltrow as substitute teacher extraordinaire Holly Holliday. As an audience we’re so used to seeing Gwynnie in period dramas or serious movies, so when she suddenly breaks out with Cee-Lo’s “F*** You” (“Forget You”, edited for content), we’re all shocked. Suddenly this new version of Gwynnie emerges in front of us, and we can’t stop laughing. I wish she could always be this fun! (re: Goop).
2. “Thriller/Heads Will Roll” – Glee Cast
Some mash-ups are good, and some are amazing. And some mash-ups are just plain awesome like this one. The mash-up between Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll” is one that makes total sense. They sound great together, and the performance just heightens the whole thing. With the cast dressed as zombies during halftime of a football game, the whole shebang just reminds you how much fun this show is.
1. “Teenage Dream” – Dalton Academy Warblers
I think we can all agree that when we first heard Darren Criss sing, we knew he was going to be someone awesome. Usually when a show introduces a new character, they’re received with generally good reception. But I don’t think anyone expected people to love Blaine as much as they did when he appeared in the episode “Never Been Kissed”. And who didn’t swoon along with Kurt while watching him perform with the Warblers? Not only did most people like this version better than the original Katy Perry version (seriously, I can’t even listen to her version anymore), but this was the first Glee became the first Glee single to top the Billboard Digital Songs chart. Because it’s awesome.